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‘Barrack O’Karma 1968’ star apologizes over brownface controversy

Recently, the Hong Kong television series Barrack O’Karma 1968 has received criticism after the series’ actress Franchesca Wong wore brownface to portray a Filipino domestic worker.

In a behind-the-scenes video uploaded by a colleague which has since been deleted, Wong was seen applying brown make-up on her legs. When asked what she was doing, the star responded, saying that she was “transforming to another person, to Louisa.”

The said video sparked outrage on the Internet where a petition was started on Change.org demanding TVB for formal apologies and for “a change in the TV show to prevent racist content that perpetuates stereotypes.”

Twitter users, on the other hand, also slammed the show for being “insensitive, ignorant, and racist.”

Following the uproar, Wong took to Instagram to apologize over the brownface controversy. “I sincerely apologize to all who have been negatively affected in any way by the 7th chapter ‘Jei Jei’ of the Barrack O’Karma 1968 drama series, and my role in it,” she wrote.

“I have learned through this incident that professionally trying my best to analyze, interpret and act a given role to fulfill the story line is only part of the job,” said Wong.

Wong then went on to explain that it was not her intention to “disrespect or racially discriminate [against] any ethnic group.” She added: “I am truly sorry that my insensitivities have offended and hurt. I am committed more than ever to using my acting for the good of the community.”

In an earlier report by Coconuts, a spokesperson for Hong Kong broadcaster TVB explained that it was “never our intention to show disrespect or to discriminate [against] any nationality in any of our program[s].” TVB has also removed the episode that featured the brownface incident, as per Malay Mail.

Barrack O’Karma 1968 is a reboot of the 2019 supernatural romantic television series Barrack O’Karma, which follows the story of star-crossed lovers.

This isn’t the first time that the TVB had their actors darken their skin to portray a person of color. In a tweet by award-winning journalist Vivienne Chow, she pointed out that another actor, Elvira Kong, also wore blackface to portray a clumsy domestic helper named Maria in the late ’80s variety show, Enjoy Yourself Tonight.

Brownface and blackface are phenomena in which a white or light-skinned person darkens their skin in attempts to portray a person of color. Both practices are considered racist acts as they mock and depict people of color as “unworthy of human dignity.”

Here in the Philippines, some shows also went under fire for practicing blackface. In 2011, Barbie Forteza was criticized for wearing blackface in the show Nita Negrita. Maymay Entranta also faced backlash for doing the same thing in her role in one of Maalala Mo Kaya’s episodes in 2019. Ella Cruz went under fire over blackfishing (the act of depicting Black people as stereotypes and portraying Black culture as a product) in 2021’s film Gluta.

Last month, Miss Universe Philippines 2022 Laguna City bet Shaira Aliyah Diaz was also called out by pageant content creator The Sovereign for blackfishing.


Other POP! stories you might like:

Awkwafina draws flak for response to criticism for past use of ‘blaccent’

These Hollywood actors regret some of their past problematic roles

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